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I've Heard the Mermaids Singing
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18 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

One of my all-time favorite movies

Author: harry-lin from Los Angeles, California
6 November 2002

I first saw this Canadian film when it was released in 1987. I was a college undergraduate, and the film has never left my memory since then. The movie is original, startling, lovely, hilarious, and thought-provoking.

It's a shame that it hasn't been made available on DVD, but I read on the director's official Web site ( that Miramax Films is going to re-release the movie. That's exciting! Perhaps they'll also release it on DVD. (Miramax, if you're reading this -- put it out on DVD!)

If you ever have a chance to see this film, see it.

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17 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely Magical!

Author: ( from Cambdrige, Ve
15 July 2002

The wonder of this film, like one of the paintings it features, can't be described in words. It is pure magic in the most abstract form! One can't help but adore Polly's originality (Sheila McCarthy). This is a fantastically crafted and acted film. It will trigger your imagination and place a smile on your face. After the film is over, you won't be able to stop dreaming. I can't watch it enough! It is very sad that it is no longer in print (at least last I checked) and I am very lucky to have purchased it in the Laser Disc format when I did. I have been a fan of this film since I was 20 and am still a fan 14 years

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15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

True Original

Author: jlarkin5 from United States
19 March 2006

Sheila McCarthy shines in this exploration of the imagination, the artist and the self.

It is one of my top ten films of all time because of its originality and ,of course, McCarthy's offbeat and touching performance. She creates something truly original that has not been matched in a female comedic performance since.

Direction is crisp, unexpected and magical. One can see why it was given a standing ovation at Cannes.

It is one of the few films that can me on a pure emotional level..appealing to the misunderstood individual.

Anyone who has felt like they don't fit in will love this movie. Be sure to watch the closing credits to the end.

Now On DVD with Rozema's commentary.

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15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

A Stunningly Realised Piece of Work-= get it now

Author: Greg Redwood from London, UK
25 June 2002

One of my top ten favorite films of all time, this is beautifully put together- I can't fault the film in any area, other than its not been released on DVD yet. This is easily the best film to come out of Canada, and Patricia Rozema will have a hard time bettering it. The whole movie plays like an ethereal dream with occasional lapses into consciousness. There are some very funny pieces, and some touching moments too. If you ever rent or buy a film because of a review on here, let it be this one, its totally brilliant, and one of the only films ever to be given a standing ovation by the critics in Cannes when it was first shown.

Truly magical.

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

A beautiful piece of art.

Author: medusalith from RI
26 November 1999

This canadian masterpiece staring Sheila McCarthy is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen. McCarthy's character will touch young starving artists in many ways. The film which is very low key has some amazing scenes that keep your eyes on the screen and your mouth wide open. I feel this movie is very misunderstood by some critics. It cannot be taken too literally. the "daydream sequences" are just that, daydreams. They are there to show you polly's (McCarthy) true inner structure. If you can find this movie, and you like artsy movies that make you think, buy it. Don't bother renting it, because you will just end up buying it anyway.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Good indie-movie.

Author: fedor8 from Serbia
7 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

An intelligent and unusual "art house"-type movie about a modest and eccentric dreamer (McCarthy). This low-key comedy melodrama isn't pretentious, though; quite to the contrary - it makes fun of pretentious bull***t-talk that takes place in the pop-art scene. The comments two of these "art experts" make while evaluating a series of paintings is very funny and effective; stuff like "his boyish bravado has a certain charm", "he is somewhat incapacitated by his emotions", "New York is wild for his oblique pragmatism", "the static structure is offset by his whimsical sociological references", "there is a hopefulness in his contextural destruction", or "the lack of resolution of his themes almost adds to a vaguely literal internal transformation of the subject" (my favourite). And while the two are spouting off this verbal malarkey, McCarthy eavesdrops on their conversation and naively nods. McCarthy is perfectly cast, totally convincing, and easily the best in an obscure cast. Two plot twists at the end. An interesting soundtrack.

If you're interested in reading my extensive satire of modern art, "Picasso", contact me by e-mail.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Art at a Different Level and Beyond Reach

Author: KC from Malaysia
19 April 2010

This is one of the two simple films about art that made deep impact on me even after all these years since their releases.

Patricia Rozema's "I've Heard the Mermaids Singing" deals with the subjectivity of art which is always relevant in any context. The master's childish art is readily being celebrated and consumed like fast food while the amateur's masterpiece is undiscovered but remain sacred. It reminds us to keep true art away from the corruption of consumerism.

Victor Erice's "The Quince Tree Sun" is probably the most boring film you'll ever watch, but just as the artist finds it impossible to capture the shifting sunlight, we realize it is no longer important to finish a piece of painting, if at all it is possible, as art is in the process not the result. We consciously experience the passing of time while watching the film! Brilliant.

Both films allow art to be taken to a different level, beyond the reaches of commercialism and physicality.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

The best film I've seen on the nature of artistic inspiration

Author: grahammeredithjones from London, England
28 January 2005

This is a wonderful film. I first saw it back in the eighties and it is still fresh in the mind. The title is a quote from T S Eliot and refers to epiphany. There seem to be a lot of spiritual references. Did everyone else not notice the significance in the older woman being named Gabrielle and the younger Mary? Gabrielle could not create what the earthier Mary could but was her muse. I am not sure of this but Polly in the Canadian accent sounds like Paul-y. The disseminator of the faith? Any comments from anyone? Yes it was small budget but still beautiful. Polly was hilarious. I loved Mary (not that she would be likely to give me the time of day). Check out a book that the actress, Ann-Marie MacDonald, wrote: Fall on Your Knees.

Anybody know where I can get the DVD in London?

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Polly is a true Taoist, but she doesn't know it, of course!

Author: jeffersontao from United States
19 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of my favorite movies of all time! Probably number two on my mental list. The cast is superb. I can't imagine anyone else filling the parts more perfectly. The imagery and the very way the movie is presented is a work of art. It's like art imitating life imitating art. There is also musical treats, for one, Delibes "The Flower Duet" from his opera "Lakme,"! From my Taoist perspective, this movie reflects the wisdom of letting life happen instead of trying to aggressively make it happen. When Polly tried to be something she was not meant to be, the results were disastrous. When she finally realized her inner nature was not a weakness, but her strength, she triumphed! Mary Joseph was the catalyst that made Polly finally begin to realize she was not some freak by defending the photo on the floor, and clarifying her own relationship with Gabrielle. It was especially interesting when Polly and Gabrielle were chatting about relationships and society during one of Polly's dreams. The Freudian quote reflects a wisdom that has been lost in time, but still very valid and true. This movie also mirrors the disconnect and love/hate relationships between artists and art critics. I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone under 30 unless you are the "old soul" type or somewhat intellectual. Otherwise, you won't get it, and there's no special effects, graphic violence or steamy sex. The insight and wisdom required to understand a movie such as this comes mostly with age. I have also known people that have acquired such insight via LSD, as I probably did, but I DO NOT RECOMMEND that route! The reasons why are because it's 40 years too late, Timothy Leary is dead, and without such a guide as he, the side effects from an illegally or poorly manufactured drug would be dangerous and deadly!

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Slight but interesting film

Author: ( from Berkeley, CA
30 March 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Quirky little film about a seemingly aimless temp worker that starts working at an art gallery. Polly, the main character, is delineated in detail: lovable but mildly exasperating in her cluelessness and lack of social skills (you are constantly concerned that she's gonna embarrass herself and, quite often, she does) although she's a bit of a stereotype (the innocent, pure, slightly clueless person with a golden heart and the best intentions that gets herself and others into trouble). She's lonely too, and this detail is wonderfully depicted in a scene which shows her preparing some food and eating by herself, with only her cat as company. Her hobby is photography and she hopes that her boss will like her photographs, with heart-breaking results when Gabrielle tells her, without knowing that they're Polly's, that her photos are "trite made flesh." The pain she feels will speak volumes to anyone who fancied him/herself an artist only to face the scorn or disinterest of others. However, the truthfulness of this moment is slightly marred by the ending in which Gabrielle seems to realize that her photos are indeed good; this seems like too much of a tacked-on happy ending. Gabrielle's character is not so well delineated, although it's quite poignant to see a person who is fascinated by and knows a lot about art and yet knows that she has no talent herself.

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